I’ll be honest with you: when Tamara and I came up with the wedding theme for PFTO, I never anticipated how difficult of a task this would turn out to be: Nothing seems perfect enough for that special day. Indeed, how special a scent is for this particular occasion cannot be judged by the price (no, no Clive Christians or JARs on this list), nor by the rarity (you have enough on your mind already what with organizing the event, there is absolutely NO need to trawl auctions and thrift shops for that amazing vintage). Ideally that special scent would be special by association: A scent that actually means something for the couple. Too, I’d find it rather presumptuous of me to claim that I can pick out the perfect scent for anyone’s wedding day. Still, despite the aforementioned difficulties and dilemmas, I do want to rise to the challenge and provide a good number of suggestions, which will hopefully provide some direction to those truly needing it.
Some general guidelines and personal thoughts first: Since we are dealing with spring and summer weddings, your fragrance of choice should be one that performs well under warm weather. If you have your heart set on something spicy or heavy, by all means, go for it, but do make sure beforehand it is not something that will turn sour, unpleasant or distinctively reminiscent of BO in the event that you start perspiring. A gorgeous floral is an ideal –if obvious- choice for a spring bride, combining femininity with grace and sensuality all at once. The summer months lend themselves to fragrances with fig and tea notes - the former being utterly seasonal, exuberant and mouthwateringly delightful, while the latter keep one fresh, proper and delightfully scented all day. Considering you will already be a sight to behold (which bride isn’t stunning, after all), you might want to rule out fragrances with a very powerful trail in order to avoid becoming a parody of sensory overload personified. Don’t surprise your partner with a fragrance he or she has never smelled on you before, unless you are very sure of their tastes. Needless to say, if there is a fragrance that is special to the two of you, either because you wore it often while dating or because your partner tends to associate the particular scent with you, wear it fearlessly. If you are still uncertain (and if you are willing to relinquish control), how about agreeing to choose a perfume for each other? If you are planning to wear your mother’s wedding dress and especially if you are very close to her, how about wearing the same fragrance she wore on her wedding day? Lastly, don’t go for a discontinued or hard to find scent for your wedding... you want to have the ability to smell and wear this again and again.
Perfumes for the Bride:
· The Traditional: Carnations are the traditional symbols of marriage, pure love and bonding, which makes a carnation soliflore a most eloquent, thoughtful and quite obvious choice for a bride. If you decide to go the traditional carnation path, I wholeheartedly suggest Santa Maria Novella’s Garofano, a most realistic rendition of the gorgeous smelling flower. Don’t let the cologne splash bottle deceive you – this wonderful fragrance lasts all day long. For those of you looking for a sexier twist on the carnation theme, look no further than Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s Soie Rouge: The whole plant comes to the fore, but with enough supportive elements to make this not just an adoring tribute to the flower itself, but truly a story that the wearer gets to live out. Avoid at all costs: Etro’s Dianthus. A soapy, chemical smelling mess with a strange, oily aftertaste. The fragrance that almost ruined carnation for me.
· The Romantic: With all the stories built around it, Chamade can only be described as a mythical perfume, as closely approximating the perfect wedding fragrance as possible. Jean-Paul Guerlain allegedly worked on this beauty for seven long years, dismissing 1300 different attempts (a nice round number there...) before settling on the formula he was finally happy with. “Chamade” was the rhythm army drums beat to signal their surrender during times of war, and the perfume itself is named after this beat to symbolize the surrender of the heart in love’s battlefield. The incredibly beautiful bottle is in the shape of an upside-down heart, while the stopper is in the shape of an arrow that has successfully pierced it. A heart of narcissus surrounded by beautiful greens and soft, ethereal notes of lilac, seductive notes of jasmine and light, juicy tropical accents make this scent not only sensual, but also extremely memorable. The soft powdery overtones and the aldehydic fizz give this perfume the character of a timeless masterpiece.
· The Innocent: For the bride that will wear the traditional white gown, symbolizing her innocence and purity, for the bride that will be traditionally given away by the father, for the woman who still feels a little bit like a child, but first and foremost, for the ones who blissfully prove cynics wrong time and time again, Anais Anais is the perfect fragrance. The key-word here is innocence, and if wide-eyed, gladsome naïveté didn’t have such negative connotations in our day, it would have been a perfect descriptor as well. Girly and pure, I can’t imagine a more perfect scent for a young bride.
· The One: My number one choice for the occasion, the most perfect scent for a spring or summer wedding is none other than Carnal Flower from Frederic Malle’s Editions de Parfums line. What more could a bride ask for, than the most perfect white floral? This is a bright, lively, fresh rendition of tuberose that refuses to be decadent, is thoroughly modern yet at the same time manages to have the feel of a classic. The slightly minty, camphoraceous even, top notes of Carnal Flower are wonderfully disturbing while the development bizarrely leads the wearer down an ever more sensual path. The ending result is improbable femininity. Carnal Flower manages to last all day, giving the wearer something interesting to experience throughout, without ever getting exhausted. Perfection.
Perfumes for the Groom:
· The Devil-May-Care, aka It’s My Day: Andy Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marocain will perhaps seem like a surprising entry for the warmer months. Despite its oriental nature and its sweet character however, I find L’air du Desert Marocain not only extremely wearable in hot weather, but also extremely intriguing. Perhaps it’s just the name, but I swear I can feel the warm air on my cheeks when wearing it now, a sensation I did not have when I first tried this sometime ago, when the weather was still chilly. This one feels like dark, sweet smelling smoke that is ravishing and ruggedly handsome in the opening, while the drydown is the sweetness of tamed, happy comfort.
· The Confident: In my opinion one of the best and most surprising recent male releases, Fahrenheit 32 is a difficult fragrance to pull off. It requires not only confidence, but for the wearer to actually feel comfortable with who he is. Its sweet, malleable core, is surrounded by a cooling, shining shell, which feels and tastes metallic. Marvelous and bizarre, this is made for the man-child whose smile is absolutely heart melting. Absolutely Special. A favorite.
· The Dandy: It might be marketed as a feminine fragrance, but you shouldn’t let that stop you: Eau de Merveille by Hermes is an excellent choice for a summer wedding. It might be a little too aloof for a bride, but on male skin this fragrance assumes a deep warmth that makes it radiate sensuousness. Its wonderful salty overtones work beautifully in warmer weather. Do be adventurous and give this a try.
· The Gentleman: Geoffrey Beene’s Gray Flannel is a beautiful fragrance that acts like a male chypre. The top notes of lemon, galbanum and citrus-leaf oils will give an initial air of freshness, while later this effect is prolonged by clary sage, geranium and oakmoss. The flowery heart adds mystery and seductiveness, while the rest of the composition ensures that the effect remains charming, but proper. Gorgeous smelling and sophisticated.
What are your thoughts on the perfect fragrance for the occasion? Would you allow your prospective husband or wife to pick out a fragrance for you? Would you ever go for a vintage or hard to find scent, or would you shy away from them for the reasons mentioned in the beginning of this post? Would you even consider a bespoke fragrance? Why?
Images: www.guerlain.fr and www.sxc.hu